If you sit all day, you are setting yourself up for your body to make "adjustments" to the way you move, which may even keep you from moving. One of the bigger reasons the seated desk plank will get you is you're typically in a flexed position at the hips, and realistically slumping over a bit more as the day goes on and fatigue sets it.
You don't want your body to get used to these positions, and you should do whatever you can do counteract them. Once you lose the glutes, a whole host of "awesome things" can take place:
Low back pain
Internal shoulder rotation
Excessive "sway back" (arching low back more)
Forward head posture
Remember, you can't change one joint angle in the body without another one changing as well. You start doing that, and you're body will let you know its not a good idea (1).
There is a way to give yourself a fighting chance against a "gluteny" and here are five ways that just may help. You get two of my favorites as well as some great movements from some of my friends in fitness. These are trainers that know the importance of proper glute function, how to train them and what happens when they don't work.
1) Rear Foot Elevated Split Goblet Squat
Two of my favorites are the rear foot elevated split squat (RFESS) and any kind of hip hinge. The RFESS really engages the core to keep the body still as the "kickstand" hip takes your body up and down.
One of the more common mistakes people make is they drive the elevated foot into a bench, chair, etc as they do this. The lead leg should be doing at least 80% of the work, if not more. I like Goblet version of this movement to get that much core activation.
If you want to hit your diagonal stabilization patterns, you can put a weight in the rack or hang position on the side of the foot on the bench. Done correctly, you can get your obliques to send you the same love note your glutes will after you do this.
2) Stick mobility RDL
You want to engage the back half of the body in ways that could get your glutes to "thank you" for days? Do a hip hinge variation. It could be a Romanian Deadlift (RDL), kettlebell swing, suspension trainer, dumbbells, bands, people weight, etc just find a modality and practice until you make perfect.
Here we've got the Stick Mobility version of the movement. I like this because it gives great feedback to the body and its pretty self limiting in terms of how much force you can put out. Because of that, its hard to do it incorrectly.
On top of the backside benefits, you get a lot of work to the posture muscles of the back that get hammered when you sit all day.
3) Kneeling Hip Thrust
This is a great way to activate a whole host of glute "fun." Here's what my partner in PE at the studio, Daniella Dayoub from DFitLife had to say about why she likes this movement. I also like the hands up high to encourage more activation of the posterior chain throughout the movement.
"Love that you simultaneously get glute activation and practice the crucial hip hinge. Most people aren't bending from the right spot: meaning they bend their backs to get over instead of the hips. This teaches you to hinge correctly and turn on those strong posterior muscles."
4) Curtsy Lunge
Randi "The Great Randini" Bethel from Move Thru Life in Menlo Park has a great move for you. I love this exercise because it takes the body left and right as well as up and down.
You also get a flexibility component to it as well, which is never a bad thing. Here's what she had to say about it. I love this move for triathletes.
"One of my favorite glute exercises is the curtsy lunge, aka cross-over lunge. It targets some big muscles you don’t see in the mirror but are super important for activities like walking and getting out of a chair.
It incorporates movements that help undo sitting in an office chair all day. This exercise also works the quadriceps muscles (front of the thigh) and the muscles in the lower part of the legs.
In addition, because there is a single leg aspect to the exercise, it will help you work on balance. And if you’re working on balance, that means you are also working your core!"
5) Side Step Lunge to High Knee Raise
Marcel Linza from 3Fit Training in Santa Clara is one of the strongest human beings I know. He can take an incredibly difficult movement, and make it seem like its the easiest thing in the world. Until you try it yourself.
He knows his stuff inside and out, and has a knowledgebase that I trust 100%. This is why I asked him to chime in, and here's what he said about one of his favorite ways to train the glutes, the side step lunge to high knee.
"I really like this movement because it parallels a lot of movements you'd find in athletic situations. We often have to change directions quickly and transition from explosive power to balance. Both glutes are challenged in this movement, leading leg is exerting explosive power off the ground, supporting leg is decelerating the body and centering it over the grounded foot."
These five movements can go quite a way to keeping your body moving well. Give them a shot, and if you've got any questions about one of them, hit the contact link and drop a line to myself, Daniella, Randi or Marcel.
1) “NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training,” Michael A. Clark, Scott C. Lucett